Don’t Defraud Your Mother or The Government

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Thief holding a social security card.

The Civil Service Retirement System was established to provide retirement benefits for civilian employees working within the federal government. Combined with social security benefits, these programs can help individuals stay financially secure after retirement.

One Maryland man abused the system and defrauded the government by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Civil Service Retirement benefits and Social Security benefits. Victor Demattia of Mechanicsville, Maryland failed to report the death of his mother and continued to receive her retirement benefits. (His mother would probably be rolling in her grave if she knew what her son had done.) 

Prior to her death Demattia’s mother received Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension payments from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB) payments from the Social Security Administration. The payments were directly deposited to a joint account held by Demattia and his mother.

Demattia did not disclose his mother’s death to SSA or OPM. Instead, he continued to collect the CSRS pension payments and RIB payments from February 2009 to June 2018. (Little did they know that they were making payments to a ghost.)

Demattia withdrew the monthly CSRS and RIB funds from the joint checking account by making checks payable to himself or his former medical transport business. Demattia stole $369,018 from OPM and $40,403 from SSA after his mother’s death over the course of nine years.

He admitted in an interview with agents of the SSA Office of Inspector General that he knew he was not entitled to their money. He claimed that he used the money to cover the operating expenses of his failing business and personal expenses. (Well, he didn’t save his failing business and he’s now going to jail. Being a fraudster comes with high risk and little reward.)

Demattia pleaded guilty to theft of government property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The government recommended a sentence of no more than 18 months in prison as part of a plea agreement made with Demattia. He will also be required to pay $409,421 in restitution. (Here’s an important lesson to remember: you shouldn’t try to defraud a government with unlimited resources to detect and prosecute frauds.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “St. Mary’s County Man Pleads Guilty To Stealing Over $409,000 In Government Benefits,” published by The Department of Justice on June 17, 2020

Greenbelt, Maryland – Victor Demattia, age 64, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty yesterday to theft of government property, for stealing more than $400,000 in Civil Service Retirement benefits and Social Security benefits.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General; and Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Thomas W. South of the Office of Personnel Management – Office of Inspector General.

 

 

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.